College students tend to sleep badly

Aug. 31, 2011 at 1:54 AM

TUCSON, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- A media campaign at the University of Arizona-Tucson helped increase awareness of sleep as a health issue, resulting in better student sleep, researchers say.

Freshmen sleep often suffers as new college students engage in social opportunities, card games, trips for late-night snacks, studying, parties, rehearsals, sports and watching TV.

Kathryn Orzech, a postdoctoral fellow in sleep research at Brown University, and student health officials at the University of Arizona, say the study indicates college students think their sleep is better than it is -- they tend to get less than 7 hours of sleep a night.

"Students report a lot of issues with sleep quality and disturbed sleep," Orzech says in a statement.

Orzech combined online surveys and more detailed in-person interviews to determine the state of student sleep at the large public university in Tucson.

Roommates, dormitory noise, fraternity activities and academic stress make college a novel sleeping environment, Ozech says.

The study, published in the Journal of American College Health, finds a campus-wide media intervention that

cost less than $2,500 was able to help nearly 10 percent of the university students find ways to sleep better.

The study found students often scored poorly on the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, a standardized measure. Average scores were consistently higher than 5, the level that indicates poor sleep -- in 2005, male students scored 6.38 on average, while women scored 6.69.

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